J. H. F. Plate a Strange Suicide, While Members of His family was Coming Homeward for a Merry Christmas Reunion.
The well known Hutchinson grocer, J. H. F. Plate, committed suicide in his store at No. 113 North Main on Saturday night at some time between midnight and morning. The suicide is wholly unaccountable and came to his family as a shock too great to be described by words. The time of the sad occurrence was on the eve of a family reunion, the members from out of town being at the time en route to Hutchinson full of delight at the prospect of all spending Christmas together. There is no sense known for the self destruction of Mr. Plate. He was busy at his store all day Saturday. Saturday night the stores were kept open late and were busy waiting on the Christmas trade. When the time for closing the store came Mr. Plate said he would stay awhile and finish up his work so that he would not have to come down town on Sunday or Christmas day following. Those who saw him last remember nothing unusual about his appearance. About midnight the members of the family retired and it was not known until the following morning that Mr. Plate had not come home.
At about 6 o’clock Sunday morning Mr. Wilcox, Mr. Plate’s baker, came to the store and found his employer‘s dead body lying on the floor next to the desk. A 44-caliber revolver was near his side and a large hole penetrated his head from temple to temple. From appearance, Mr. Plate had finished his work and had then lain down on the floor. His head was pillowed upon a pile of sacks. From appearances, after taking this position, he shot himself thru the temple. The weapon had been held on the floor in his right hand and the ball after passing through his head had entered the desk a little higher up than where his head lay. One of his sons arrived just after Mr. Wilcox reached the store. It had been found that Mr. Plate had not come home and the son went at once to the store in search of him. Dr. Taylor the coroner was called in, and examined the place carefully. Although the deed is unaccountable it seemed to be clearly shown a case of suicide. Mr. Plate after the others had left the store, counted his money and the small change was all done up in packages, the amount of each written upon the outside. With the package of money was a note written in German in Mr. Plate’s handwriting telling the boys where to put the packages of money? The note was decided to be genuine by the sons, and seemed both to show that Mr. Plate’s mind was not right and that he was then premeditating suicide. The note merely said to put the package in a certain drawer at the house. It was decided by Dr. Taylor, the sons of the deceased, and others who were present that it would not be necessary to hold an inquest.
A sad feature of the affair was the arrival of the three children from Kansas City, yesterday morning. They arrived by the morning train in high spirits in anticipation of the family reunion and the Merry Christmas at home. Everything was supposed to be in readiness at the Plate’s residence at No. 200 Third Avenue East for the event. The three members of the family were met at the depot with the sad and shocking news. Instead of the old fashioned Christmas which had been planned they had come home to attend one of the saddest funerals that can be imagined.
J. H. F. Plate was born in Germany a little over fifty-seven years ago. His father was a farmer. When a very young man the son went to Hamburg and engaged in the grocery business. At the time of his death he had been in the grocery business for forty years.
The family moved to Hutchinson from Kansas City, in 1881 and at that time of his death Mr. Plate was numbered among the leading grocers of this place. From the best information which could be learned today his business affairs were in good condition at the time of his death. The family consists of a wife and six grown children, Alice Roland and J. K. C. Plate who are living at home, and the eldest son who has his father’s name, J. H. F., and Mrs. J. D. Moore and Mrs. C. E. Carson, all of Kansas City, who arrived here yesterday morning.
The members of the family say they can find no cause for the suicide. A few years ago Mr. Plate was held up while going to the store to his home and was robbed of a large sum of money. He has always brooded over this loss and has seemed changed since that time. Ordinary, however he was of an easy going disposition and not given to melancholy feelings.
The Plate home was a sad scene yesterday. It is a spacious building on Third Avenue. In one of the upper rooms was a large pile of presents, gifts which had been purchased by the members for each other and others sent in by friends? They were stored away from sight. All were too sad to look upon the gifts, which were to be a part of the man. The Christmas will not be enjoyed, but instead today is a Christmas filled with grief so great that the tender sympathy of friends can lighten but little.
The funeral will be held from the house on Tuesday at 10 o’clock a.m. The services will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Irwin.
Death Date: December 24, 1899
December 25, 1899
Submitted by Kathleen Dankanyin